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Stickybacks - Stella Marguerite Grossi (1884-1964)

Stella Marguerite Grossi b:1884 Liverpool, was the daughter of John Baptiste and Margaret Grossi and the younger sister of Spiridione Grossi (1877-1921). Spiridione Grossi is believed to have been the originator of the "stickyback" photograph. In the 1901 census Stella was living at the Grossi family home at 77 Paradise Street Liverpool and her occupation was shown as a typist. By 1911, Stella, still living at 77 Paradise Street, was a photographer and an employer.

The 1913 local directory listed Stella as a photographer at 57 Bold Street Liverpool. We do not know currently whether Stella's photographer brother, Spiridione Grossi, was involved in the business in any way. We do however know that Stella produced Sticky Back photographs, at least in 1914, possibly with the assistance of her brother. Below are images of two stickyback photographs of unknown young women, c 1912, taken at 57 Bold Street, (Collection of the late Miss Catherine (Kitty) Bollard.) In addition, the Liverpool Echo, on Wednesday 9 December 1914 p6 contained an advertisement: "Man, middle aged, understanding bromide printing and developing 25/- and commission. Call Friday, Sticky Backs, 39 Grange Road West, Birkenhead". The 1914 Kelly's directory of Cheshire shows that 39 Grange Road West, Birkenhead, was occupied by photographer Stella Grossi. Although there is only one directory entry for Stella at 57 Bold Street (1913), it seems likely that she retained the business there for a longer period. We are most grateful to Christine Caroppo for drawing our attention to later directory entries for this address, 1915 to 1940, for the "Star Studio" and the likely connection of the two names.

Stickyback images from Stella Grossi 57 Bold Street, Liverpool c 1912

Stella Marguerita V Grossi married William Henry Huish (1873-1933) in Q4 1929

William Henry Huish, whose occupation was shown in different Masonic lodges as a theatrical manager or theatre manager, was initiated into freemasonry in 1913 into the prestigious Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple, Chester, No 3464. He paid subscriptions to that lodge at least until 1921. In 1917 he was appointed an assistant organist of the lodge., which indicates that he had musical skills. He was raised to the Third Degree in Bohemian Lodge No 3294 at Birkenhead, where again he paid subscriptions until at least 1921. Bohemian Lodge No 3294 was a theatrical lodge, many of its members were from the acting profession and there was a strong connection with the The Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead. He also belonged to Randle Holme Lodge No 3261, Port Sunlight, which met in Birkenhead, from 1916 to 1921 and Claughton Lodge No 3915 Birkenhead from 1919 to at least 1921. This record suggests that William was an active and committed Freemason. Masonic records are not public after 1921.

The Era - Saturday 16 April 1910, reveals that W.H.Huish was then the manager of the newly opened Cinematograph Theatre on Merseyside ( P7. Cinematograph Theatre.— Manager, Mr. W. H. Huish.—The series of pictures shown here at this newly erected theatre, which opened its doors last Saturday, consists the Eruption of the Etna Volcano, Pals, His Last Burglary, Dancing Tabloids, Winter Sports in the Vosges Mountains, and Cowboy and Squaw. The attendance at all the performances has been extremely large, and warmly appreciated the excellent programme." The Era 4 June 1910 p7, "Cinematograph Theatre, Manager, Mr. W H. Huish - crowds continue to be attracted to see the pictures". Huish was a Liverpool delegate at a meeting of the Cinematograph Exhibitors Trade Union at their meeting in Birmingham in June 1917. (Era, 13 June 1917 p18). By Feb 1918 Huish had joined, then resigned from, the Union’s Executive. (The Era - Wednesday 06 February 1918 P23).

William Huish was listed as a photographer in local trade directories at 173 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool from 1929 to 1933. The electoral rolls for Morecambe of 1930 and 1931 list William and Stella Huish at number 2 Northumberland Street Morecambe. It also states that Stella’s abode was 173 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool.

William Henry Huish of 173 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool, died at the Freemason’s Hospital, London, on 25 Feb 1933. Probate was granted 26/05/1933 to William John Norman Wheeler, Solicitor's Clerk, and John Parkinson, master electrician, his estate was valued at £401.9.10.

The Morecambe Guardian on Friday 12 August 1932 p7 carries a report of a court case against a young girl who had attempted to obtain goods under false pretences, pretending she had been asked by Mrs Stella Huish to open accounts on her behalf with various tradesmen. Stella gave evidence in the case and her address was given as 4 Northumberland Street, Morecambe where she said that she carried on a business as a photographer and caterer.

We are most grateful to Jan Redmond for permission to show the photograph below of her parents, Nellie and Frank Howarth, from Burnley, This was taken around 1930 on a visit to Morecambe before the couple were married. The whole is a pseudo carte, printed photographically on glossy photo paper. Beneath the image of the couple, still part of the photograph, is printed "Stickybacks Morecambe". The whole measures 13.8 x 6.2 cm. Shown alongside is a similar photograph from the author's collection, of a seated unknown old man in a large flat cap. This is produced in a similar manner but the text beneath the portrait says "4 Northumberland Street Morecambe. The two photographs are identical in width. The second example is not quite so tall at 12.5 cms, but in both cases it would appear that the height of the photographs has been trimmed, and not quite squarely so. They have perhaps both been cut by their owners from a vertically joined strip of multiple prints. From these similarities it would seem a fair conclusion that these two photographs came from the same Morecambe studio, and that the studio was at 4 Northumberland Street Morecambe, and that at some stage that studio used the title "Stickybacks", which Stella had used before in Birkenhead. The use of the name "Stickybacks" would have been quite unusual as late as the 1930s.

Two portraits believed to have come from the studio of Stella Huish in the early 1930s. Thanks to Jan Redmond for permission to show these.

Two portraits believed to have come from the studio of Stella Huish in the early 1930s.

The Morecambe Guardian on Saturday 25 June 1938 p3 carried a report of the wedding of Miss Ethel Acton, who was employed as a photographer by Stella Huish.

According to the 1939 Register Stella Huish and William Oliver were both living at 5 Walton Avenue, Morecambe. William Oliver, b: 10/5/1909, was the studio manager at 4 Northumberland Street at least until 1946 (Lancaster Guardian of 9th August 1946). During WW2 Stella was a local air raid warden and she opened her home at 5 Walton Avenue as an ARP post for local wardens. (Morecambe Guardian, Saturday 30 September 1939 p4).

Stella M Huish died in Lancashire in December 1964.

References: Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, PhotoResearch, 2004, Gillian Jones


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This page was last modified: 17 August 2022, 14:29

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